Schools Superintendent Outlines Changes for 2011-12
In her annual Back-to-School news conference, Hillsborough County Superintendent MaryEllen Elia introduced new initiatives for the district and championed recent accomplishments.
When Hillsborough County students go back to school tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 23) they will see a few changes.
First, students will be getting home earlier on Mondays as schools will dismiss one hour earlier at the start of the school week. The early release Mondays – the first is August 29 – will offer teachers more planning time and will be more consistent than release days in prior years.
Clothing requirements will get more stringent at the county’s schools. This year state mandates will require penalties for students who wear pants that show their undergarments or midriff, or are not secured at the waist.
All high school students – beginning with this year’s ninth graders – will be required to complete an online course before graduation.
The school district’s home page has undergone a redesign on the district website.
School cuisine will also change this year. The student nutrition program will now offer improved menu selections for elementary school students including more entrees with fruits and vegetables. Smoothie Huts will be introduced in the high schools along with more salad bars.
Another new concept for Student Nutrition Services is the Chef’s in the Schools program. Volunteer professional chefs will be partnered with schools in their communities to conduct cooking demonstrations and to show that eating healthy can also taste good.
Superintendent MaryEllen Elia outlined the changes for the upcoming school year on Friday, August 19, at her annual back-to-school press conference.
Elia reminded parents to log on to the Student Nutrition Services website to fill out the new online meal benefits application.
The superintendent also announced that Hillsborough Virtual School will hold its first graduation.
Another new initiative this year is the creation of the single-gender girls and boys preparatory academies. Elia, speaking in the media center at the new Girls Preparatory Academy at Ferrell Middle Magnet School, spoke with girls from the school. She also talked with youngsters from the new Boys Preparatory Academy at Franklin Middle Magnet School.
Other new magnet schools Elia mentioned were the International Baccalaureate (IB) at Roland Park K-8 and Walker Middle schools, and the creative science centers at Young Middle and Lockhart Elementary.
The superintendent also discussed the district’s achievements for the 2010-2011 school year, including:
- District fourth graders led the state on the writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test;
- 73 percent of district elementary schools were graded A or B;
- More students in Hillsborough County passed Advanced Placement exams than in any other district in the nation;
- Hillsborough was one of only districts in the state to meet the state-mandated Class Size Amendment.
Elia also talked about the district budget. She said that Hillsborough County Schools has cut more than $3.5 million from its budget without any layoffs, furloughs or reduction in salaries.
“It’s an unsettling time economically,” Elia said. “(But) we are different from other places.
“We keep cuts away from our students and classrooms.”